Bighorn Sheep Winter Habitat Protection Plan

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UPDATE: Public comment period extended additional 30 days for bighorn sheep winter habitat protection environmental assessment

MOOSE, WY— The public comment period for the bighorn sheep winter habitat protection environmental assessment has been extended an additional 30 days. The public is encouraged to comment on the proposed actions by June 20, 2022.

"We appreciate the public's interest in this process," said Grand Teton National Park Superintendent Chip Jenkins. "We look forward to continuing these conversations together on how best to protect bighorn sheep in the Teton Range, while still providing for winter activities like backcountry skiing."

Comments must be submitted on this site. Click "Open For Comment," then on the "Bighorn Sheep Winter Habitat Protection Plan Scoping Notice." Once there, you will have the ability to submit comments. This website is not equipped to accept attachments. Should commenters wish to provide an attachment to further demonstrate or support their comment, they should:

* First, submit public comment via this website and clarify that they will also be
submitting an attachment to be included with their comment.

* All attachments should be emailed to:

* Ensure they are using the same name and email address used for their online public
comment so the attachment will be associated with the corresponding comment.

* Note that emailed attachments without public comments submitted to this website
will not be accepted.

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April 20, 2022

Public comments encouraged for bighorn sheep winter habitat protection environmental assessment

Grand Teton National Park is developing an environmental assessment to consider implementing additional management strategies to protect bighorn sheep winter habitat within the park. The public is encouraged to comment on the proposed actions by May 20, 2022.

Bighorn sheep have occupied the Teton Mountain Range for thousands of years, but today this native population is small, isolated from other nearby populations, and at risk of local extinction. Since the 1990s, management of the herd and its habitat has been coordinated between Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Bridger-Teton National Forest, and Caribou-Targhee National Forest, as the Teton Range Bighorn Sheep Working Group. The Working Group identified bighorn sheep population threats from habitat loss, disease, non-native mountain goats, and disturbance from backcountry winter recreation.

In an ongoing effort to conserve and protect the bighorn sheep within Grand Teton National Park, the park is proposing additional actions beyond the current 2019 Mountain Goat Management Plan implementation. Based on emerging science, recommendations from the Teton Range Bighorn Sheep Working Group, and changing conditions on the ground, the National Park Service is considering other visitor and resource management actions to conserve this small, native population of bighorn sheep within the park, while providing backcountry winter recreation opportunities.

Alternatives will consider visitor management and education strategies for protection of bighorn sheep as recommended by the Teton Range Bighorn Sheep Working Group, including increased public outreach and education, signage, enhanced monitoring of both bighorn sheep and recreational use, new or expanded winter closures in specific areas, and designated travel routes, among other actions. Action is needed at this time to address emerging issues related to increases in winter backcountry visitor use patterns in winter bighorn sheep habitat and the new and growing body of research that demonstrates that winter recreation can disturb and harm wintering ungulates, including bighorn sheep. The primary aim is to provide secure winter habitat for bighorn sheep so they can spend the winter in disturbance free zones, while also providing backcountry winter recreation opportunities. 

At this time, during the scoping period, the National Park Service seeks input from the public on the components of these strategies. Please provide comments via this website.

Thank you for your interest and participation. We look forward to hearing from you!